Body Machine

I’ve spent the last few weeks working on Body Machine at Raven Tor. I’ve always wanted to do this route, but I really thought it would be way too hard. When someone chopped the tree down a few years ago I wrote off my chances totally. I was keen for a look though…

It’s been a great experience. I always feel I want to incorporate adventure into my climbing, usually by heading to sea cliffs or mountain crags. But despite being on a roadside crag half an hour from my house Body Machine has felt like an adventure in the purest sense. It’s been a journey into the unknown. Every session I’ve made progress, but been unsure of success. At first I missed out the first third of the climb (the bit you avoided using the tree), partly because it’s got a hard crimpy move, but also because I thought there was limited chance of being able to do the original, let alone the now harder direct version.

Dunc on the shake out at the break on Body Machine

It starting to come together. I went from really struggling to put the moves together, to extending links into slightly longer links. I thought I was about to hit a roadblock in my progress this week. In truth I was waiting for it, I still feel like it might hold out and need a winter of training, but I’m really close. I had a couple of sessions where I was climbing through the lower section and failing on a powerful move about halfway up. I did this a few times, reaching the same point and trying to take tiny morsels of progress from it. “I got my finger into the pocket” was as good as it got one session, not even adding a move. I tried to keep my hopes up by remembering that conditions weren’t perfect, that I was tired from cycling in to Sheffield all week.

Today I breached that barrier for the first time. I made it to the break. There’s a good rest there, with your foot jammed into the break. I couldn’t recover at all though, and after several minutes shaking out I struggled through 2 more moves before coming off. Not recovering on the rest was frustrating, but this was the second day on at the Tor, and I felt tired, so breaking through that high point was unexpected. I felt even more tired the next go. In fact, I fell off the start, in comical fashion. When I pulled back on I made it through the hard initial section to the first rest. I felt terrible, I shook out, but couldn’t get much back, so I thought I’d just carry on and see where I fell off. I passed the rockover, took a quick shake and moved up to the chipped pocket. The next sequence was what had been throwing me off, but I made it through that too and got to the break. I still couldn’t recover at all, but I made it one more move up the headwall than before. In reality that was massive progress, given how terrible I felt when I set off and that this was an end of session run.

It’s on. I think the pressure now is psychological. The shake at the break should be good enough to recover, but I think I’m lacking the core stamina to get a lot back. I may be better just latching the jugs and giving myself 10 seconds to shake out. The moves out of the break are really powerful, but there aren’t many, and by the next clip you’re back in balance, with a few tricky moves and a strenuous undercut to the last clip. From there it really should be a formality, but it would be really easy to mess up the finish when you’re tired. Unfortunately over the sessions I’ve had on the route I’ve reinforced the difficulty of the final section, rather than feeling confident about it. I’ve consistently failed after leaving the break. In fact I’ve never done the link to the top from below the break. In other words, I’ve not done it without feeling reasonably fresh.

Raven Tor

Body Machine is massive step up for me, and it’s such a great route that I’ve really enjoyed working it. The climbing is varied, it’s really beaten me up and it doesn’t play to my strengths. Even the original version would have been harder than the 7cs I’ve done before, so adding in the direct start has made this a big project, but one which will hopefully pay dividends for my fitness.

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